collecting stories

When worry holds captive…

I write from the thin places some days, where the veil is not so thick and might just tear a little if attention is not paid. So it is today.

I’ve always been one to live as half-spirit- there is a part of me that is always listening to the whispered hush of the church, moving through the day- ever the more so since I began to attend to the hard stops of fixed-hour prayer. I used to think I was strange, in my heart and my passion- that I could not wrest twain my one-piece life. My faith has always formed so large a part of myself that to be hidden from it is like dying a living death- I feel empty and shell and lost. It is an awkward gift He gives in this, that I cannot separate my two lives; because when I fail to acknowledge one side or the other, the burden of conscience seems all the more heavy. I’ve only met a few kindred spirits over the years that seem wired the way I am, who think in colors and images and song, so affected by what is not as by what is, who feel so very deeply in  passionate purple and golden yellow the mosaic of life. The fracture of it all hurts profoundly in ways few others can understand. I can only imagine that the Lord of life forms us this way, our artist souls, to reflect His heart, so that we see just how dreadfully the curse has fallen, so that we speak to it, so that we never forget it, so that we tell of His glory, give of our gifts to the Body, just as the Body ministers to us and sustains us when we faint from the pain.

There is a dangerous shard of blackened red that can run through our days- and I suppose, runs through all of our days and not just those of us who see the colors- that can threaten to overtake the entire vision of life if we do not attend to it. But in this, because every color is so deep in hue and cast, we who see colors often miss this rent in the tapestry in a way others can see clearly. We call it by different names- depression, sadness, melancholy- (and sidebar, here, some depression is caused by chemical and hormonal imbalance- that is not of what I speak here). I’ve begun to call it the visitor in a sort of tongue in cheek, Stephen King-esque sort of way, with a slightly scary soundtrack accompaniment. But I don’t think that name is too far off, to be frank. The enemy of our souls does c0me for a visit when the colors run black…when we muddy the colors of our lives with trouble.

I’ve been living with the visitor for a while now. Years stretch backwards, and I tremble in the strangeness. Saturday last, I was near shaking with panic and worry. And I kept peering across my life then and my life now, and the only thing I knew- the only thing I could describe- was the fact that I was fractured in faith. Because I’ve always been half-spirit, prayer is precious thing to me. To be so tormented in mind that I could not pray, to be so affected by that which I could not see that I could not attend the words, that everything had become a fight; this is how I knew.

I had become so prideful in my brokenness that bit by bit I had stepped farther and farther down the darkened path and away from the light, I had let worry attend me and fear become my right hand friend, and there I was, collapsed in the living room, with all the wrong companions and the colors running red and black. He spoke to me of worry as sin and I railed, oh how I railed! at what my Beloved was speaking to me, making audible the Father’s desires for me, His dreams for me. I kept rationalizing, kept excusing, kept reasoning away the separation that I felt. I did not want to face the reasons for my departure from His presence, even though I could see and how feel how deep the separation had become.

It is painfully, abundantly clear, though. I got the priorities all out of whack. I began to become consumed by the tasks before me, which I guess is understandable enough- I think we all do that- but then we forget the Sabbath, in a sense, and the fact that God has ordained a time for everything, and we keep trying to push the clock, grab at the hands and stop it, and in our human-strength try to obtain the unobtainable. And of course, we are frustrated, because the Lord made us human and finite. It is no small thing to face one’s limitations and accept them, to let the tasks rest in their days, to step away to the peace of prayer, fellowship. Most of the time I have done the exact opposite- push and push and push to accomplish a task list mired a mile long, to forsake the fellowship of my children and my beloved, to grab at more than I can ever do in a day. I grew frustrated. Then sick in body, trying to ignore the sickness of heart. I gloried in my broken life; railed at all of it, angry that I was miserable—and all the while, failing to realize just whose hands had made it so, grabbing at stuff so hard that I would crack them with my anger and hopelessness. And the forced-ness- it turns to trouble and worry. You think that everything is out of control, so you must think upon it endlessly, ‘fixing’ it in your mind, controlling, pushing. And the mind clutters, and the sleep falls away, and the prayers fall away, as if down a dark tunnel, something you know is there but the light seems so far away…this is captivity.

Confession cracks the gates wide open. When we bring light to sin, when we let control go, there is healing. Why do we so endlessly burden ourselves? I’ve never understood this. It is such a fight for me to let go, but every time I do? I discover peace. I am beginning to think that I need to practice more at it, this letting go, this confession- and find Him more. I’d really like to send the visitor on an extended trip to the underside of hell- where he belongs. For the colors to run clear, we must be washed clean.

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